Traditional Homemade Spanakopita (Easy From Scratch Greek Spinach Pie)
This Traditional Homemade Spanakopita or Greek Spinach Pie is easy to make from scratch with homemade phyllo or filo dough. You will be surprised how easy it is to make the homemade phyllo/filo pastry, you may just never use the store bought stuff to make spanakopita ever again. The homemade phyllo pastry turns out so flaky, crispy and delicious and the spinach filling is made even more delicious with the addition of leeks - my personal favorite way to make spanakopita. Make sure to watch the short how to VIDEO which will help take out all the guesswork in making the tastiest homemade spanakopita.
What exactly is spanakopita?
Greek “Spanakopita” (spinach pie), pronounced (spa-nah- KOH -pee-taa), is a Greek classic pie and probably one of the most popular ones. The Greek word for spinach is “σπανάκι and pie is πίτα” the two make up the word spanakopita. Spanakopita is made with loads of greens most often spinach, herbs, and briny feta cheese encased in layers of homemade, crispy phyllo. I like to add leeks to mine because the leeks add a sweet and delicious flavour to the filling.
What do you need to make spanakopita?
It requires basic pantry items for the dough and simple ingredients for the filling. Here are the basic ingredients you will need:
- Olive oil
- Green onions or chives
- Fresh herbs
How do you make spanakopita?
Although it may seem like a lot of work and many steps - it’s actually quite easy to make homemade spanakopita from scratch. And it comes together pretty quickly. Here are the basic steps:
- make dough and knead 5-7 minutes then let rest for 30 min (make ahead instructions below)
- make filling while dough rests by pan frying the leeks, onions and spinach until softened - set aside to cool completely before adding the rest of the filling ingredients
- separate dough into 8 portions rolling each into balls
- roll dough balls into 5 inch circles then layer them into two stacks brushing each layer with olive oil/butter mixture (one stack with 5 layers of discs for the base of the spanakopita and the other with the remaining 3 for the top of it) then chill while you grease your baking pan and stir in the remaining filling ingredients to spinach mixture
- preheat oven then roll out the first stack (5 stack dough) out thin 2-3 inches wider than the pan you are baking your pie in then transfer It to baking pan leaving overhang over edges of pan
- roll out the top layer (3 stack dough)
- spread filling into the pan
- place top layer over filling then roll up the overhanging edges, drizzle with oil/butter mixture, score top of pita and bake until golden.
Tips to making the best spanakopita every time:
- Chilling the buttered dough stacks for a few minutes or even up to 15 minutes before rolling them out. This really helps to get that flaky crust or phyllo we all look forward to eating
- The cornstarch is optional for dusting with the flour but I always find adding the fine cornstarch to the flour for dusting always helps my phyllo to get extra crispy
- Don’t be in a rush to add the filling to the pan. If you let it sit in pan over the bottom layer of dough for example while you roll out the top one it could result in a soggy bottom layer. Add the filling right before you are ready to place the top layer of dough on. Then work quickly to get the pita in the oven shortly after that.
- Everyone has different tastes when it comes to the filling. Please adjust seasoning according to taste and add extra herbs or spices as you wish.
This is my mom’s recipe that I worked with to create this easy no fail spanakopita recipe. My mom really doesn’t measure anything so I really had to test this several times to get it just right for you guys to be able to make without any kind of guesswork. It’s my fav kind of pita - more of a horiatiki or village style spanakopita that can be served hot or cold and enjoyed as a snack but also be served as a main dish. In Greece, it is a favorite choice for breakfast and a really popular street-food.
This recipe has been a long time coming cause I was quite intimidated to make the phyllo from scratch. I really wish I made it sooner cause it really can’t get easier than this. The dough is so easy to work with and very forgiving especially with my moms easy method of preparing it. I really couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you guys and I can’t wait to see you guys make it and enjoy it! Happy baking!! If you like this recipe you will love these:
For the phyllo dough
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 5 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or pain white vinegar
- 3/4 cups warm water (just above Lukewarm but not hot)
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch for dusting with extra flour
- ¼ cup melted butter, plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more if needed
For the filling
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more if needed
- 312 g or 11 oz of spinach (I use baby spinach but if you are using regular spinach make sure to roughly chop it)
- 1 leek white and light green parts only cleaned well, and sliced
- 3 spring onions, white and green parts sliced
- 1 cup of crumbled feta (approx 200 grams)
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons ricotta
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill/ 1 small bunch (you can also add in some chopped fresh mint or parsley), optional
- Place flour in a medium mixing bowl and make a well in the center of it. Drizzle in olive oil and add salt; and add the white wine vinegar and warm water. Mix until a rough dough starts to come together. Then empty it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Knead until dough is smooth, using just enough flour to keep it from sticking to the work surface or your hands, 2 or 3 minutes. Continue to knead until dough is supple and elastic, about 5 more minutes. Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature, ½ hour or for up to 3 hours. If making a head you can wrap and refrigerate for up to two days.
- While the dough is resting it’s time to get started with the filling. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and add the leeks and the green onions and allow to cook 3-5 min stirring often until softened. Add the spinach and cook tossing and stirring until wilted another 5-7 minutes adding a little extra olive oil If needed. (It looks like a lot of spinach but it will wilt down fast) Once wilted continue to cook an extra 1-2 minutes to cook off as much moisture as possible. Set aside to cool while you prep the dough.
- Once ready to make your pita. Unwrap and place on clean working surface. Roll it into a sausage trying to keep it as even as possible in thickness from one end to the other, approx 10 inches long. Cut sausage into two right down the middle then each half into two and then each of those halves into two, so you have 8 portions. No need to use a scale. (I tend to reserve the larger pieces for the bottom part of the pita and the smaller ones for the top of it - don’t worry if they aren’t totally even) Roll each portion into a ball. Place on plate or parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap to prevent dough balls from drying out while you begin to roll them out.
- Mix cornstarch with a ¼-½ cup of flour for dusting while you roll out your balls. Dust a work surface and the first dough ball lightly with the cornstarch/flour mixture. Flatten out the dough ball with your fingers and then roll it out with a rolling pin into a flat disc/circle, about 5 inches in diameter. Set circle to one side. Then repeat with the rest of the dough balls. Try to keep the circles as close to the same size and shape as possible. They don’t have to be perfect just as close as possible.
- Melt butter and place in a small bowl and allow to cool slightly then stir in the olive oil.
- Place one of the circles of dough onto plate and brush all over generously with the olive oil/butter mixture. Repeat with four more circles brushing each in between but DO NOT brush the top of the last one. Then use your fingers to press down on the edges of the stack sealing them. Place plate in fridge to chill while you do the same for the remaining 3 on a separate plate then chill that stack too while you finish making filling
- Add dill, feta and ricotta to the spinach mixture stirring well to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. (Now is the time to taste it before adding in the eggs). Then stir in the eggs until well incorporated. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 10-12 inch skillet or baking pan by brushing it generously with the butter/olive oil mix and set aside.
- Take the 5 layer stacked dough out of the fridge. Peel it off the plate and place on working surface dusted with the flour/cornstarch mixture. Start rolling it out dusting with flour lightly if needed and peeling it off the work surface to dust if needed so that it’s not sticking to surface. Roll out thin until you have rolled it out 2-3 inches beyond the size of the pan you are using to bake it in. Pick dough up by rolling it onto your rolling pin. Then roll it off onto the skillet or pan. Then use your hands to place it in pan evenly with excess hanging over the edge of pan. Drizzle top of dough with olive oil/butter mixture and set aside.
- Take out the remaining 3 layer dough disc and roll out the same way and the same width as the last. Pick it up by rolling it on to rolling pin and set aside
- Empty filling onto the dough in pan and smooth out evenly into pan.
- Roll the top portion of dough over the pan then use your hands to tuck it into pan over filling - letting it sag in areas.
- Roll the overhanging portion from the base layer up working your way around the entire pan. Brush the edges with butter/oil mixture then drizzle the top of it generously with it.
- Score the top of the dough with a sharp knife portioning it out into slices (gently - no need to cut right through the dough). Bake in preheated oven for about 55-60 minutes until the phyllo is crisp and deeply golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before cutting into pieces using the scored markings as a guide. Enjoy as is or serve the spanakopita with my Classic Greek Village Salad (Horiatiki) or my Classic Greek Lettuce Salad (Maroulosalata).
- To make ahead: You can knead your dough and let it rest for up to 3 hours wrapped at room temperature. Or you can wrap and refrigerate it for up to 2 days.
- You can roll out your circles or discs of dough and butter them up in 5 and 3 layers and make these ahead as well. I would just cover the plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 -2 days ahead. When ready to roll them out allow them to sit at room temperature for a couple minutes before rolling so it’s easier to roll them out.
- Your filling can me be made a day ahead and stored in a sealed container in the fridge.
- I DO NOT recommend freezing the spanakopita AFTER it has baked. If you are freezing it do it BEFORE you bake it. Make as directed above right up to scoring the pieces. Then wrap in plastic wrap and then foil tightly and freeze - then bake right from frozen removing the foil and plastic wrap, allowing more baking time as needed.
- Leftover spanakopita will keep well in a sealed container stored in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days. It’s best reheated In the oven until warmed through. Unfortunately it will lose its initial flakiness but will still be delicious.
For the dough:
- For a 10-12 inch pan I find this dough amount just perfect. It could even work well for a 9 inch pan too although your phyllo layers might be a bit thicker. If you want to make a large pan of this spanakopita round or rectangular or a large sheetpan of it I recommend doubling the dough and filling recipe.
- The reason I separate the dough discs into 5 and 3 layers is because I always need extra layers on the bottom to hold the filling without it getting soggy. You can switch it up and do half and half if you prefer that. But I would not go less that 4 sheets on the bottom cause no one likes a soggy spanakopita.